Originally written on The Nats Blog  |  Last updated 11/17/14
The Nationals finally saw exactly what they hoped to see from Dan Haren when he signed the one-year/$13 million deal this past offseason. His outing against Atlanta, in what he admitted after the game felt like a must-win contest, was absolutely stellar. The Nats beat the Braves 3-1 as they moved back above the .500 mark and within 2.5 games of the division-leading Braves, which is exactly how they started the series. Haren pitched eight masterful innings, taking a cue from Jordan Zimmermann's eight inning masterpiece the night before. He made it through those eight innings on 90 pitches, allowing just one run on four hits and a walk. His start earned an impressive Game Score of 73. In comparison, Jordan Zimmermann's last two game scores were 88 (complete game shutout vs. Cincinnati) and 86 (eight inning shutout vs. Atlanta.) Haren finally was able to keep the ball down in the zone, and he was comfortable with is drop in velocity. He threw his cutter and splitter almost exclusively, both hovering in the mid-80s on the radar gun. The Braves went up swinging early and often, and despite only striking out four, he got a lot of quick outs. Entering the eighth inning, Haren had thrown just 69 pitches. The 21 pitch eighth where he got into what was the closest to a "jam" he was in all game spelled the end to his fantastic night. The Nats offense still hasn't lit up the run column lately, but the fantastic pitching they've gotten has rescued them as it did in April 2012. Denard Span continues to show his value as the Nats center fielder with a 3-for-4 night with a walk. He was at least partially responsible for all three of the Nats runs by knocking in two and scoring one himself. He's currently hitting .292 and getting on-base at a .364 clip, rivaling Ian Desmond for the hottest hitter on team right now. A split in this four-game series was the best case scenario, not just after losing the first two, but because it's incredibly difficult to win a four-game series. The Braves now face the Mets at home, but then they have to go on the road for a 10-day road trip against the Reds, Giants, and Diamondbacks. The Nats don't have the easiest schedule ahead, either, but at least the Braves aren't going to skate on easy street.

Panthers coach replaces break-in victims’ Christmas presents

Cardinals Bruce Arians benches Logan Thomas on Christmas Day

Richard Sherman: Marshawn Lynch having MVP season

Curt Schilling tweeted advice to Johnny Manziel

Aaron Rodgers buys TVs for Packers teammates

Harbaugh smiled when asked about Michigan's bday tweet


Jackie Robinson West Little League accused of cheating

Police: Fire that burned down McClain's home 'suspicious'

Furniture store will refund purchases if OSU wins title

What each NFC team in the hunt should ask for from Santa

Is SI ashamed to mention Jameis Winston on its cover?

Kobe Bryant disappointed Lakers didn't get Rajon Rondo

Q&A with Rich Eisen; TNF, DirecTV and living in LA

Is the NFL playoff system heading south?

WATCH: Quincy Acy ejected for throwing punch at John Wall

Billy Beane did not want to trade Josh Donaldson

Peyton Manning plans to be back with Broncos next year

WATCH: Blazers announcer botches Damian Lillard call

WATCH: P.K. Subban disguises himself, surprises kids for Xmas

Baseball cards: a fan's love for the ultimate stocking stuffer

Packers game is a career defining moment for Stafford

A look inside Jason Grilli's contract with the Braves

10 Week 17 NFL matchups that will impact the playoffs

WATCH: Bahamas Bowl ends on insane Hail Mary play

MLB News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

By clicking "Sign Me Up", you have read and agreed to the Fox Sports Digital Privacy Policy and Terms of Use. You can opt out at any time. For more information, please see our Privacy Policy.

Q&A with Rich Eisen; TNF, DirecTV and living in LA

Dan Le Batard sums up Miami's relationship with LeBron

Is the NFL playoff system heading south?

WATCH: Announcer botches call

Police: McClain fire 'suspicious'

10 Week 17 NFL matchups that will impact the playoffs

Bahamas Bowl ends on crazy Hail Mary

49ers OT Davis takes shot at coordinator

Will FIFA ever care to change?

Top storyline for each Week 17 game

40 great Christmas-related sports names

Nick Mangold and dealing with feelings as a sports fan

Today's Best Stuff
For Bloggers

Join the Yardbarker Network for more promotion, traffic, and money.

Company Info
What is Yardbarker?

Yardbarker is the largest network of sports blogs and pro athlete blogs on the web. This site is the hub of the Yardbarker Network, where our editors and algorithms curate the best sports content from our network and beyond.